Publishing 2.0: Google and The 4-Hour Workweek Special Arrangement Foreshadows the Future of Books

The news in brief: Google has come to a special arrangement with The 4-Hour Workweek to help readers test and improve the book’s core ideas. Before I give the details, let me explain why this is significant.

From Printing Press to Oligarchy to Digital Democracy

The dead-tree world is no more. Digital word-of-mouth — the most efficient and diffusive in history — fundamentally changes not only the marketing of books but their purpose altogether.

The publishing oligarchy has long had a top-down (guru endorses, minions purchase) push (paid advertising) model of information dissemination. The book was a self-contained product, and small offline communities were paid lip service but but viewed as consumers, not contributors.

In Publishing 2.0, books are manifestos — big idea seeds that pair naturally with global online communities that grow organically, not only spreading the “big idea” but improving upon it.

These distributed think tanks will want tools to test and explore their own variations, and it will be one of the forward-thinking author’s new responsibilities to find the best partners to cultivate this innovation. Harnessing the massive intellectual power of this “army of Davids” (quoting Glenn Reynolds of will allow authors to initiate massive business and social change with speed and precision impossible even three years ago.

Here is the first set of tools to experiment with.

Google will provide a free $25 Google AdWords trial offer to all readers of The 4-Hour Workweek, allowing each person to experiment with the ideas and concepts in the book. I do not receive any commission or compensation for this. [NOTE: This offer is now expired]

“We’re excited by this arrangement because it allows 4-Hour Workweek readers to apply the ideas in the book immediately — and even improve them. This is really a glimpse into the future of book publishing,” says Trevor Claiborne, Associate Product Marketing Manager at Google. “Ideas are no longer confined to the printed page, and it’s the communities of readers who individualize the idea, repurpose it, and grow it.”

Google AdWords allows you to test any business idea (indeed, any idea) in a matter of days, even hours. Can you see where this could go?

There is some fine print (e.g. this offer is only good for new Google AdWords users, and you need to sign up by 6/30), so be sure to read it completely. To begin exploring the infinite options of immediate online micro-testing, re-read Chapter 10 “Testing the Muse”, log in to the reader-only section of the main 4HWW site, and click on the Google AdWords link at the bottom. [NOTE: This offer is now expired]

Test small but think big. Much more to come.


Other Important Extras and News:

Do you have stories or questions for the growing 4HWW community? Hundreds of readers have asked me if I have plans to create “4HWW for Mothers,” “4HWW for Employees,” “4HWW for Families,” and related extensions of 4HWW. My answer? Don’t wait for me! Create your own social network on — just name it “4-Hour Workweek for X” (note the spelling of the title, which is often misspelled), X being whatever community you want to create. Be sure to include the tag “4HWW” so people can find it. Take a few minutes to create your own group, and leave a link to it in the comments of this post so the world can find you. Before you know it, you could have a few thousand members! Just take a minute to search for a pre-existing social network before creating your own, so we can avoid duplicates.

4HWW has hit #1 on the Wall Street Journal and #4 on The New York Times bestseller lists! I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of my friends, supporters, and — most of all — readers for helping to spread the anti-deferred-life-plan movement. I’m on a mission, and there will be much more to report, ranging from organized social movements to even legislation. Thank you all! This launch has been one example of how the critical mass of many points of input can overshadow even mainstream media. Amazing.

If you’d like to learn how some of the world’s best headlines are created and tested, I highly recommend reading the work of copywriting legend Joseph Sugarman. His testimonials include everyone from the Founder of Sharper Image to Former Vice-President, Al Gore, and his most recent compendium, The Adweek Copywriting Handbook, includes critiques and reviews of real-life advertising campaigns. I have a Sugarman anecdote in the 4HWW, and for those readers who are familiar with my “finding Yoda” approaches, I am now spending early July with Joseph himself on a tropical island!

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

28 Replies to “Publishing 2.0: Google and The 4-Hour Workweek Special Arrangement Foreshadows the Future of Books”

  1. How absolutely awesome, especially because I just now managed to find 4HWW at the bookstore after checking every couple of days for a month!

  2. Can you buy The 4-Hour Workweek book as a PDF online and just download?

    If I’m traveling round and its not in stores in the country I’m in, how do I get the book?

  3. While I am not really looking to work only 4 hours per week (BECAUSE I LOVE MY JOB) I am looking for ways that I can be more effective with my time, energy and resources. In that interest I picked up your book and I have enjoyed every page. I am one of the pastors on staff at a church and your book has helped me explore some new and out of the box solutions to address some challenges that have come up over the last two years. Thanks!

  4. @ Hon:

    You can get an Adobe e-book from Powell’s. I bought my copy of the book from there. However, it’s not a straight .pdf, (unless you have Adobe Reader 6 or 7), you have to download some Adobe Digital Editions software, but it’s freely available from Adobe.

    Hope that helps.

  5. Hi All,

    I love the new social networks and can’t wait to see the ideas that come out of them. 4HWW is just Lifestyle Design 101, and it’s testing in the field that will bring out the really cool stuff. I’ll share some recent experiments in the next week or so.

    Hermann, how did I get Google involved? Hard to believe, but here’s the secret: I just asked… and not that eloquently. I met a great guy from Google at a speaking event at UC Berkeley, and the “pitch” was something like this:

    1. I asked a ton of questions about what he did and what he wanted to do in the future. I was genuinely interested, and it was clear that I wasn’t just waiting for my turn to talk.

    2. I had a simple human interaction without the jargon and nonsense of most over-formal and under-thought businessspeak: “Hey, you know, we should really grab a coffee sometime soon. I’m a huge fan of Google and actually have nearly an entire chapter dedicated to testing using tools like Google AdWords in my new book. Want to do something next week? I think we’d be able to come up with some really interesting ideas for co-promotion.”

    This ended up being one of our interesting ideas 😉

    All the best and g’night,


  6. Tim

    You are right on the money regarding the whole social networking phenomenom and the rise of a community diven publishing world. I am curently pursuing these initiatives in three projects.

    1. My own Perfect Life Project which is implementing many of your 4HWW suggestions as part of a live experiment to create the Perfect Life.

    2. I am involved in a new e-book that is about to be published documenting the rise of social networking. It is called the Age of Conversation and has been authored by 100 of the worlds best marketers. Naturally the book is gaining a groundswell of support via social networks, not traditional publishing methods.

    3. I have created a new online media outlet that basically is citizen driven. News and content is supplied predominantly by local citizens: blogs, opinion pieces, images, videos and more.

    Its been a fascinating exercise. There are so many intelligent and willing contributors out here.

    I am so happy the 4HWW has been such a success via the use of such innovative channels.


  7. Tim – I’m still reading your book and am currently testing some concepts to find the right business for me to limit work time and do what I love. My hubby also has a startup website that we are testing as well. Regarding your Round-the-World Challenge and what I would do with 36 more hours a week:

    I have spent time volunteering for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), where individuals are appointed the responsibility by a Court of Law to represent a foster child’s interests while they are in the care of the state. Aside from the lack of time / attention that government caseworkers can often spend focusing on these children, I have observed a sickening lack of educational support for foster and special needs children. Special education programs – even those for behaviorally –not mentally – challenged children lack even basic textbooks and curriculum for their studies. Children who have fallen behind in school because they’ve moved from foster home to foster home are not given structure to allow them to catch up – often they are lumped in with kids years younger than them, serving neither group well. To top it off, state funding cuts off at age 18 – foster children are often turned out on the street, and those living in group homes are as well. No child left behind, my ass.

    I have always wanted to spend more time with this organization – spreading the word about how one individual can make a difference, as well as developing a grass roots effort to reform educational efforts for these children in particular. I would also like to develop a college fund program (and marketing plan) for foster children – individuals can set up a 529 savings program within their respective states, just as they do for their own children..

    Aside from the noble causes noted above, I’d love to spend a little more time with my own three kids, and a lot more time kicking back with my husband – more traveling, including extended visits to Italy and Brazil, and developing additional language skills. Life is short, and I want to live it!

  8. I started the 4-Hour Workweek for moms: – stay at home moms still work and working moms still take care of the home, so let’s put our heads together and spend more time with our families!

  9. Colin, have you read the book yet? I’m sure asking is the right thing to do, but I’m pretty sure he’s anti-meeting. 😉

  10. Hi Nate, Thanks for your comments, I have read his book and was pretty anti-meeting before reading it and now with the book I have his written back-up to support it, cha ching. I guess you thought my saying “speaking” referred to needing to have a meeting, maybe I should have said, “look forward to communicating with you soon.”

    (Tim hire him, he may be just a few dollars more than YMII., haha)



  11. Colin, good good. I was just joking with ya anyway. 🙂

    (Tim, I’d be happy to be hired by you, but only if I get to outsource everything, too. I’m a better employer than employee too, just so you know up front.)


  12. Gavin wrote:

    “Come off it Tim, google aren’t supporting you it’s an affiliate deal that lots of other companies offer as an incentive to get people to start an adwords account.”

    Well, that was rude. I don’t meant to bait a troll, but I just want to speak up here.

    [NOTE FROM TIM: Thank you, Jaya. I agree that such comments really aren’t necessary — people should just ask me. I should have made this clear (and I added it to the post), but I am not getting affiliate commission or compensation of any kind with Google. It wouldn’t be a bad thing, but I didn’t go that route and never had any intention of making money from this. I view it as win-win-win all the same.]

    Tim, I hope you DO get an ad-words credit or something in exchange. As it should be! You get a reward from Google for bringing them new customers, who also get a deal, is a great Win-Win-Win scenario.

    I’m stymied that anyone would have a problem about that, particularly a commenter who is ALSO trying to ride the wave of interest in outsourcing. What’s he paying you? The only thing he’s giving you is a hard time.

    (Forgive me, I don’t usually get all annoyed and comment like that, but that just seemed so wrong.)

  13. Rather than create a whole new group I created a sub-group of an existing group for people in Japan interested in the 4-Hour Work Week:

    I haven’t actually read the book yet but will do soon. I’m just getting a relationship with Brickwork (the Executive Assitant Service mentioned in this blog) started.

    The real turning point for me was when I reached breaking point with email:

  14. Just as some have asked (and in one case flamed without just asking me first — tisk, tisk!), I am not getting affiliate commission or compensation of any kind with Google. It wouldn’t be a bad thing, but I didn’t go that route and never had any intention of making money from this. I have better vehicles for income.

    And to the flamers: before you flame me or anybody else, just send them a polite email with a question. It doesn’t cost anything to be polite.

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